Fairness for students taking A-levels and GCSEs in 2021

Boris Johnson

Neu

Fairness for students taking A-levels and GCSEs in 2021

#FairGrade2021

In its management of this year’s A-level and GCSE grading process, the Government failed in its duty of care towards our young people.

Ministers showed a lack of trust in teachers and leaders, whose assessments of their students’ potential were discarded in favour of an Ofqual algorithm combined with the past results of schools and colleges. For the majority of students, grades were initially awarded with no reference to, or evidence of, their individual achievements. Young people do not deserve to be treated as numbers in an algorithm.

This must never happen again. Our young people have already suffered so much due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is vital that the Government takes urgent steps to ensure students due to sit A-level and GCSE exams in 2021 are treated fairly and that none are disadvantaged. Allowances must be made for the time they have missed in school and contingencies put in place in case of further school closures due to coronavirus.

We call on the Government to:

  • Reduce the content assessed in GCSE and A-level exams next summer. Students starting the final year of their GCSEs and A-levels in September 2020 have missed months of schooling: the exams they sit in the summer of 2021 must reflect this lost learning time. They must be slimmed down by making some topics optional to allow for the different order in which content will have been taught across the country.
  • Work with teachers and school leaders to develop a robust national system of moderated centre assessed grades in case there is further disruption to exams next summer because of a second spike in coronavirus or local lockdowns.
  • Commission a thorough independent review into assessment methods used to award GCSE and A-level qualifications in England, along the lines announced by the Scottish government. The current over-reliance on exams increases student anxiety and fails to give a fair reflection of what students can achieve. All options should be considered to ensure that young people are rewarded for their achievements, supported to fulfil their potential and not held back due to their background.

To: Boris Johnson
From: [Your Name]

The Government has a duty of care for the nation’s children and young people. In its management of this year’s A-Level grading process, the Government failed in this duty.

Ministers showed a lack of trust in teachers and leaders, whose assessments of their students’ potential were overwhelmingly discarded in favour of an Ofqual algorithm combined with historic patterns of grades in schools and colleges. Grades were initially awarded, for the vast majority of students, with no reference to, or evidence of, their individual achievements. Young people do not deserve to be treated as numbers in an algorithm.

This must never happen again. For students due to sit A-Level and GCSE exams in 2021 – young people who have already suffered so much due to the Coronavirus pandemic – it is vital that the Government takes urgent steps to ensure they are treated fairly and that none are disadvantaged.

We call on the Government to:

Plan for the GCSE and A-Levels taken by students in 2021 by reducing or making optional the expected content in all subjects. Students starting the final year of their GCSE and A-Levels this September have missed months of schooling: the exams they sit in the summer of 2021 must reflect this lost learning time and include more question choice and a slimmed down syllabus.

Develop a national system of teacher moderated grades in case there is further disruption to exams next summer because of a second spike or local lockdowns.
Commission a thorough review into the assessment methods used to award GCSE and A Level qualifications in England, along the lines announced by the Scottish government. All options should be considered, including the possibility of more coursework and systematic, moderated teacher assessment, in order to broaden the assessment system and ensure that young people are rewarded for their achievements, supported to fulfil their potential and not held back due to their background.